A new state-of-the-art games area was launched at RAF Lossiemouth by one of its former Station Commanders, today.
The Airplay games area has been built with funding from the RAF Benevolent Fund for both local and military families. The project is part of the charity’s £24 million programme for children and young people from the RAF family, providing state-of-the-art play areas, childcare centres and trained youth workers to support RAF families at the stations.
Air Marshal Chris Nickols, who served as Station Commander at RAF Lossiemouth between 2000 and 2002 and has recently taken on the role of Controller at the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: "I am delighted to be back at Lossiemouth today, in a rather different capacity, to launch this new games area. The RAF Benevolent Fund is committed to helping to relieve the pressures on RAF parents and their children wherever they are based.
"As a father, I know how difficult it can be for the children of RAF families, when a parent is far away on operations for long periods. Also having to move regularly from base to base and needing to adapt and make new friends only adds to the pressure.
"So I’m delighted that we can provide places like this, where kids can just come and have fun and meet other children, as part of the wide-ranging package of support the RAF Benevolent Fund provides to the whole RAF Family.”
By rolling out these projects at all main RAF stations, the RAF Benevolent Fund aims to provide children and young people with a range of recreational facilities and programmes of social activities for children of all ages. The project also provides a much-needed support network and vital continuity if and when familes relocate to another station.
Sarah Riley-Evans, Community Development Officer at RAF Lossiemouth said: "The RAF Benevolent Fund’s Airplay project has transformed what we can offer the kids at RAF Lossiemouth and with over 100 members, we now offer youth activities four nights a week plus after-school clubs, holiday activities and youth residentials.
"We instinctively understand the pressures that young people within the RAF community face and as such are able to offer focused support, particularly during stressful times when a parent is away serving their country. The massive investment made by the RAF Benevolent Fund in our play parks and multi-user games area means we can now offer year round outdoor sports to encourage young people to get active and stay fit.”
Kelly Parfitt, a local parent whose daughter uses Airplay said: "Katie joined Airplay Lossie when we moved up here last year and it has been a life saver for our family. She has met new friends, had fantastic experiences and even had the privilege of performing a play for HRH The Duke Of York.
"Through her involvement with Airplay I have watched my little girl grow in confidence, learn new skills and settle into this new area really quickly.
"Katie's dad will be deployed over Christmas and she already worrying about this but Airplay Lossie is giving her support and she knows she can talk to the staff and other children in a similar position.
"I have recently started volunteering with Airplay Lossie as my way of giving something back to a project that has made a huge difference and I am incredibly appreciative to the RAFBF for their support."
Station Commander of RAF Lossiemouth, Group Captain Ian Gale said: "I'd like to thank the RAF Benevolent Fund for their support here at Lossiemouth and within the local area. It makes a big difference to know your family is happy and safe and the Airplay project is a tremendous example of one of the many ways the Benevolent Fund is helping serving families."